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Wheaton divorce attorney child custody

People get divorced for every kind of reason under the sun, from basic incompatibility to simply wanting different things in life. Many times, these reasons for a divorce stem from a basic inability of the couple to effectively communicate and cooperate with one another. Just as this spelled trouble during the marriage, this can also spell trouble during the divorce. Divorcing with children can be especially complicated as child-related issues tend to be very emotionally fueled, but they must be settled before the divorce can be finalized. Illinois courts urge parents to come to an agreement about parenting time and decision-making responsibilities on their own or with the help of a mediator. However, if that is unsuccessful or would be detrimental to the well-being of the family, the case must be brought before a judge.

Understanding Child Custody Evaluations

If you and your spouse appear before a judge without a consensus as to what your parenting plan agreement is, the judge will most likely order a custody evaluation to take place before any further decisions are made. If the court orders a custody evaluation to take place, the evaluator is then hired, which is typically a mental health professional, such as a psychologist. The evaluator’s job is to study and record the interactions between the child and each of his or her parents, siblings, and any other relevant family or household members.

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DuPage County divorce attorney parenting plan

Ending a relationship with a spouse who has a tendency for conflict can feel like you are finally able to relax for the first time in a long time. If you have children, however, your time with your ex-spouse is far from over. Some couples are able to remain calm and civil after the divorce and successfully co-parent their children, while other couples struggle to keep discussions from escalating to full-blown arguments. Studies have shown that the single factor that affects children the most by causing distress is the conflict between parents. If you and your ex do not seem to see eye-to-eye on issues, a parallel parenting plan may be a more suitable solution for your family.

What Is Parallel Parenting?

In cases involving co-parents who exhibit high-conflict qualities, a traditional co-parenting agreement may not be in everyone’s best interest. Parallel parenting is an alternative form of parenting and allows high-conflict spouses to disengage from one another and have little direct contact. Often, this means the contact is only through written means, such as text or email, with no face-to-face or phone conversations. This allows there to be as little conflict as possible while still allowing both parents to be active in their child’s life.

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Wheaton family law attorney legal separation

The term “separation” holds a certain negative connotation when explained to family or friends. If you and your spouse decide that you both need some time apart, others may jump to conclusions and assume that this is your first step toward divorce. While this may be the case for some couples, experts have shown that time away from your spouse can often help you make a better decision about how you would like to proceed. Some may simply live separately while others may file for a legal separation agreement. There are benefits and drawbacks to separation, some of which may bring you closer while others could drive you apart. A knowledgeable family law attorney can help you navigate the legal process of separation.

How to Facilitate a Healthy Separation

Living apart from your spouse for a period of time does not have to end in divorce. In fact, many psychologists and marriage counselors actually encourage time apart if you are struggling to make things work. Once apart, you may recognize how much you miss and rely on your partner and decide to put in the additional time and effort to improve the relationship. In order to be productive while you are separated, here are a few things that experts suggest:

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Naperville family law firmThe coronavirus has been in the news for weeks now. The virus, also known as COVID-19, has spread rapidly across the world and the United States. There are currently more than 140,000 cases of Coronavirus in the United States, with over 2,400 deaths to date. The virus has been quickly spreading across the country, and currently, the primary recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are to practice social distancing. This has led many states, including Illinois, to enact stay-at-home orders, requiring residents to only leave their homes for life-sustaining reasons. This has also led many people to wonder how this order will affect their parenting time and parenting plans.

Understanding the Executive Order

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order on March 20, 2020 that requires all Illinois residents to stay in their homes and avoid social gatherings. The order still allows people to leave their homes for outdoor activities, such as walking the dog or exercising, or for other essential errands, such as going grocery shopping, getting gas, or picking up prescription medications. Travel has also been restricted to essential travel only, though roadways will still be open. Essential travel includes travel to care for the elderly, minors, or other vulnerable people, travel to return to one's residence, and travel for other essential tasks.

Complying With Visitation Orders

The order also states that “travel required by law enforcement or court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement,” is permitted. This means that your parenting time should not be impacted by the stay-at-home order. However, there are exceptions. If you or your child’s other parent are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, it may be in the children's best interests to forego parenting time with that parent until you have been tested for the virus and have been found negative. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

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Naperville guardian ad litem lawyerUnfortunately, divorces do not often involve much amicability, especially on issues related to children. Divorcing parents may not see eye to eye on what is best for a child of the marriage. This can result in major disagreements that do not have a clear solution.

During a divorce, a child’s best interests can be put on the back burner or forgotten altogether. In order to avoid this, a judge may appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to the case to help understand the situation and determine what solutions would be in the child’s best interest.

What is a GAL?

A GAL is an attorney who has been trained and certified to handle child-related issues. A GAL can be appointed in any case that involves child support, child custody, allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, parental relocations or the general welfare of a child. Though the GAL is a licensed attorney, he or she does not act as an attorney for either side. Rather, the GAL’s role is to examine the circumstances of the case and act as an advocate for the child’s best interests.

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DuPage County Parenting plan attorneyGetting a divorce when you have children is much different than getting a divorce when you do not have children. Couples who divorce and have children often face a more complicated and stressful situation than couples who do not have children. With the addition of children, there are many different things that must be addressed before you can finalize your divorce. In the state of Illinois, couples are required to have a parenting plan in place before their divorce can be completed. A parenting plan is a document that details the agreement between the couple and outlines many of the issues and procedures relating to the children, including how parenting time will be allocated and how decision-making responsibilities will be handled.

Before you go to court about your parenting plan, you must first attend mediation. Illinois courts believe that families benefit from the use of mediation when issues need to be settled, but they also understand that mediation does not work for everyone. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement during mediation, you will have to take your case to court where a judge will make determinations about your case.

Components of a Parenting Plan

In your parenting plan, there are certain elements that must be present before the court will approve the plan. At a minimum, the parenting plan should contain information about:

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DuPage County parenting time lawyerWhen it comes to divorce cases and issues involving children, the Illinois court system places the needs and well-being of the children above all else -- including the parents. Child custody can be a contentious issue in divorce cases, but the job of the judge assigned to your case is to ensure that the child is safe, well cared for and loved, no matter the custody situation. Illinois courts understand that children do their best when both parents are present in their lives. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act specifically states that “it is presumed that both parents are fit and the court shall not place any restrictions on parenting time.” A judge will, however, place restrictions on parenting time if he or she feels the child would be in danger by spending time with one or both parents.

Considering Parenting Time Restrictions

It is widely understood by most people that a child not only deserves to have both in his or her life, but that they also thrive when they form a relationship with both parents. In most divorce cases, there will be an equal or nearly-equal allocation of parenting time. Unless a parent petitions to have the other parent’s parenting time restricted or the court learns of a danger to the child, parenting time will not be restricted. Before any decisions are made, a hearing will be conducted to determine whether the child’s mental, emotional, physical or moral health would be in danger if he or she were to spend time with the parent.

Types of Parenting Time Restrictions

Once you have attended the hearing, the courts will determine whether a parenting time restriction is appropriate. The court will examine all aspects of each parent’s life, such as his or her living arrangements or work schedules. If the court finds any of these aspects to be questionable, then they may place restrictions on the type, duration or supervision of the parenting time. Restrictions on parenting time can include:

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DuPage County parenting time lawyerDivorce is never easy for anyone, but it can be particularly stressful when a couple has children and they intend to divorce. With children comes a slew of extra issues and arrangements you must agree upon before you can finalize your divorce.

Illinois courts require that you and your spouse have a parenting plan filed with the court before you can finalize your divorce to your spouse. A parenting plan is a document that outlines both significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time (which is now the term used for child custody). Coming to an agreement on child-related issues can be stressful and sometimes a judge must step in to settle disagreements.

Factors for Consideration

Before a judge steps in and begins allocating parenting time, the parents are encouraged to come up with a parenting time plan on their own. This both increases the likelihood that both parents will stick to the plan, but it also helps foster cooperation and communication between the parents. 

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